Being surrounded by approximately half a million bees is not necessarily on everyone’s comfort level. But that’s what happened when Chesapeake Harvest visited one of our honey suppliers, George Meyer (aka BeeGeorge.) in Oxford, MD. We were instructed to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, but despite the almost 80-degree weather, added a winter jacket and boots for the extra protection we thought we’d need.
After BeeGeorge outfitted us in the standard beekeepers’ hat and long gloves, we watched as he lightly and bare-handedly moved a swarm to a ‘roomier location.’ As the bees noisily buzzed around us, we asked for reassurances: how many times has he been bitten, could they come through the netting to bite our face, etc. He corrected us: It’s a sting, not a bite. Semantics. Either way, we wanted to experience neither.
We then moved into a large area containing numerous ‘wooden boxes.’ BeeGeorge’s honey is well-known in this area, but we also learned he sells starter hives to new beekeepers. Known as ‘nucs’ these fully functional small hives include a laying queen, which he explained, “We’re going to tag!”
Opening a nuc, he removed each of the five frames containing either brood or pollen. He located and removed the queen, again with no protection on his hands, put her in a special ‘cage,’ where he marked her with a small spot of paint on her back, before gently returning her to her colony.
It wasn’t too long after that we ditched the bulky gloves with the realization that everything we thought about bees had changed. Before leaving, we asked what each of us can do to protect these miraculous creatures. BeeGeorge advised:
Buy local honey.
Don’t spray insecticides or weed killer, if possible. But if you do—
Don’t spray when it’s windy.
Don’t spray your flowers.
Spray at first or last light.
Mow before spraying.
Mow but don’t kill your dandelions and clover.
Chesapeake Harvest proudly carries BeeGeorge’s honey on our online marketplace/farmer’s market of locally produced food and food-related products.
Chesapeake Harvest is an organization working to build a vibrant local food economy, producing healthy food, expanding economic opportunities for Delmarva farmers, and growing new markets for local food. For more information, go to https://chesapeakeharvest.com/